Saturday, June 6, 2009

More KPCS Rambling

Here I go critiquing The Kevin Pollak Chat Show again. This must be a testament to just how good the show is even this early on because I keep finding myself wanting to write about it. Much like other shows I've enjoyed over the years like Lost, Heroes, X-Files, and Star Trek. It's also more fun to dissect something that can withstand scrutiny, than something that's far too easy to insult. So again, what follows is not meant to be a put down. Quite the contrary.

Even so, I keep watching this thing and wishing I could squirt Kevin Pollak with a spray bottle, like people do when they're trying to train cats not to climb on the drapes. This never works by the way. The cat will do what it damn pleases after the spray bottle carrier leaves the room. Likewise, Kevin Pollak will do things as he damn well pleases but I'd get satisfaction in spraying him anyway.

Why would I want to spray him? Well firstly, he calls the show Kevin Pollak's Chat Show. Alright. That's fine. It's his show. He's the host. His name should be on the bill. Alright.

Secondly, he repeatedly says this is NOT his show, even though he's on it. This is his audience's show, and he goes on and on, every week, at length, citing examples of ways he's going out of his way, out of the kindness of his heart, to make KEVIN POLLAK'S chat show, your show.

Thirdly, he then monopolizes the interviews, going to the response from viewers as an afterthought towards the end of the hour, or sometimes only after having exhausted everything he personally wanted to ask his guest.

Fourthly, when he asks his guests questions, he often finds a way to use this question as an opportunity to take his own life experience as an example, so that he gets to answer his own question, posed to his interviewee, as if he were also simultaneously interviewing himself, and asking himself all the questions he wished everyone from Johnny Carson to Carson Daly would ask him.

Did you just get a headache reading all that? Cuz I just got a headache typing it all out. What a mind fuck this show is. Pollak's a talented guy! He's good at what he does and he's also good at this new schtick too, but let's face it, he's no Charlie Rose. Charlie Rose doesn't answer his own questions. He sets his ego aside before the cameras roll and focuses on his guest. I'm not saying Pollak should BE Rose. Far from it. In fact I can tell as I've mentioned before that Pollak seems to be picking and choosing from past interview shows and using what he's seen work before, borrowing most prominently from Charlie Rose cuz let's face it, the man's the best in the history of the business when it comes to interviewing.

Let me try to pull up an example of what I mean. What follows is an exchange from Kevin Pollak's interview with Josh Malina from Sports Night and West Wing and all kindsa great shit.

Josh Malina: I often say when Allison Janney and I worked together? That's five Emmy awards right there.

Kevin Pollak: There ya go.

Josh Malina: In fairness, all of them hers!

Kevin Pollak: [laughs]

Josh Malina: But between us! Five Emmys! ..incredibly great actors, and uh incredibly nice workplace..

Kevin Pollak: but also to step up to the plate in a situation.. uhm, where i mean, I - I felt like, which I've joked about many times in my act, "Where's Waldo" in the cast of A Few Good Men cuz I'm surrounded by deep ball hitters. I was the only one in the lead cast that the audience was thinking who's this guy? Everyone else - ridiculously famous.

Josh Malina: That's true.

Kevin Pollak: [surprisingly does not do a double take here] And I imagine stepping into a show like [WEST WING] that's been a huuge monstrous hit for two years similar - and the next experience I had which was shocking was how everyone treated me like an equal - an ABSOLUTE equal. There's no pecking order ..and I don't know if that's what your experience was-

Josh Malina: Absolutely was.

Kevin Pollak: Was?

Josh Malina: Yeah. The first read through? Which already the fact that they did read throughs was like uh, was just such a- cuz things are so busy half the time that there was no time for a read through-

Kevin Pollak: Right.

Josh Malina: -But they really took the time to read it and let Aaron hear it and it was like a big party atmosphere and John Spenser may he rest in peace came up to me and said "Oh I loved your work on Sports Night" and I thought THAT'S a classy guy!

Kevin Pollak: Yeah yeah yeah...
Now don't get me wrong. Pollak is very interested in his guests, but he's also very interested in himself. Often in a way that seems rather humble and self-effacing but I can't tell if he's just doing that to hide narcisism or if he seriously needs someone to inflate his ego now and then cuz he honestly doesn't realize how much he kicks ass. He talks as if by the time A Few Good Men happened he was nobody. He'd already been in L.A. Story, Willow, and he was very well known for his standup routine. Kevin Pollak had been a name long before Usual Suspects. He was already on the map. Maybe he wasn't Jack Nicholson but come on.. Even Jack Nicholson isn't really Jack Nicholson.

So Pollak really needs to realize he already rocks, and to quit trying to prove it to himself. Then he'd be better suited to sit there, as someone who rocks, and show the world that the person he is interviewing really rocks too, and here's why. What I'm hoping is that as the series progresses and Pollak gets the question answering out of his system and grows bored of tooting his own horn, that he settles into this new role. He does obviously enjoy illuminating the people that appear before him, otherwise he couldn't sit still that long. It should really be more about a prince holding court than about a prince pretenting to be a pauper pretending to be a prince.

We know you're a prince. Quit trying to be pauper for a day. You're not fooling anybody.

Of course, I say all this, and if he actually took any of this seriously, then he'd get a big head and be entirely obnoxious on camera asking guests to kiss his ring and aren't they so thrilled to be in his presence because he knows he is so awesome?

...maybe it's best to leave well enough alone.

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